BEHIND THE SCENES: What Really Went Down At Last Night's Big Debate

dartmouth bloomberg debate

Eight Republican presidential candidates took the stage at Dartmouth College last night for a frank discussion on the main issue driving next year’s presidential election — the economy.

The debate provided moments of entertainment, but, absent a Tea Party audience, seemed like a relatively muted affair. As promised, moderator Charlie Rose kept the conversation focused on fiscal issues, steering clear of the hot-button social issues that have dominated the past few GOP debates.

The atmosphere was much more raucous behind the scenes, as candidates and their campaign staffers worked the spin room and student watch parties — or in Rick Perry’s case, a fraternity — to spin their message.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was definitely the most high-profile guest at the debate last night, although, surprisingly, his endorsement of Mitt Romney never came up on stage.

Michele Bachmann strolled over to the Dartmouth watch party to gladhand with students after the debate.

Newt Gingrich also made an appearance, apparently jubilant after his fiery debate performance.

Although at that point, a lot of the students looked like they were about to fall asleep.

Meanwhile, campaign advisors worked the press in the spin room above the debate. Here is Charlie Spano, Herman Cain's field operations director.

After a disappointing debate performance, Jon Huntsman did his own spin — a bad sign for his flailing campaign. The Huntsman camp reportedly hightailed it out of Hanover about 15 minutes after the debate ended.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also did his own spinning.

He also had a loyal contingency of supporters — and hecklers – outside of the auditorium.

Toward the end of the night, Herman Cain made a surprise appearance in the spin room — and was promptly mobbed by reporters.

A New Hampshire state trooper had to ward off the hordes and usher Cain out of the room.

Rick Perry avoided the official spin room — but made his own in Dartmouth's Beta Theta Pi fraternity.

He even posed for pictures with the fraternity brothers.

These Dartmouth football players from Texas were pretty excited to meet their governor.

So was this guy.

After the campaigns cleared out, Bloomberg wound down the night with a party at the Hanover Inn.

Want more? Here's what went down before the debate.

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